In this video Lee Pound shows you how to become an influential writer and marketer by learning the writing skills that great writers, marketers, religious leaders and politicians use to influence people and that successful businesses us to attract customers and clients.
Check back here tomorrow for information on how you can learn these influential writing skills.
Yesterday was quite a milestone. It’s not a completion, just a step along the way. Two and one-half months ago, I set the intention of writing one story every day for the next year and posting them on my blog at http://www.365storiesinayear.com. Yesterday I posted number 80 in a row. Now that’s a lot of stories by anyone’s reckoning but it’s just the start.
So here’s the story of why I’m doing this.
Over the last few years, I’ve edited and published a number of books for other people and have neglected my own writing because I was so busy. On August 26, I made a resolution to start writing stories myself and on that same day I wrote the first one.
Over the last two months I’ve written fiction, non-fiction, stories from my own life and career, stories from my father’s, and stories that I just plain made up.
My original rules were to write one new story every day for a year, sometime between midnight and midnight of the day in question. For the last 80 days I’ve made that happen, sometimes in the morning, sometimes at five minutes to midnight, sometimes on days when I didn’t feel like writing, sometimes when I struggled to find something to write about. If you go back through this blog, you will see one post every day.
I see people complain all the time about not having time to write or to do other things they might do to improve their businesses. It is all a matter of priority. When I attended Blog World and Jeff Walker’s Product Launch event, I wrote a story every day, no matter what else was going on, even when the connections to the Internet were difficult.
By the way, my longest streak of posting on a blog before August was 16 in a row and that was a lot. My average was a post every few months or so. I just could never seem to get going or I would forget. Other things got in the way. Priorities. In August, I committed to this and since I am up to #80, that commitment seems to be working.
If there is a lesson in all this, it is that anyone can do anything they put their mind to, no matter how difficult it may be. If you want to write a book, you can. If you want to climb Mt. Everest, you can. If you want to influence the world, you can.
I’m writing stories. What are you doing every day that you are passionate about?
I’ve emphasized this for quite some time in my private writing programs so it was great confirmation to see that most of the top Internet marketers use similar principles in their marketing.
What is it?
Most great marketing starts by determining the target audience long before the product is ever created. Unfortunately too many amateurs do it the other way around. They create the product then look for a market for it. This is a recipe for disaster.
Hear are the first steps you use in setting up your marketing plan and in writing your book:
Determine your target audience. Usually the best way to do this is to set up an avatar or typical customer that you describe in detail, including age, interests, fears, frustrations, and goals.
Find out what your target market wants to resolve these interests, fears and frustrations.
Decide what your program or book will give them
Create your personal story in a way that it meshes with your target market avatar’s personal story. These two stories are the most important part of this preliminary process.
Once you know all of this, create your product or write your book in a way that it meets the needs of your target market.
Sell it to your target market.
This process is so important that I’ve decided to make a video about it which I will share with you in the next few days. Be sure to watch for it since I’ll include some secret processes which I usually only share with my clients.
We live in a world where everything is segmented. Specialists dig down deep into a tiny niche and become an expert in it. Writers debate over the merits of this or that genre (bookstores do care which you choose). Scientists specialize in narrower areas of study, knowing everything about a tiny thing and not much about the big picture.
I could go on and on. The point is that by specializing, by paying close attention to the details, we miss the big picture, the two or three great truths that we must follow everywhere to succeed.
Let’s take writing as an example since that’s were I concentrate. And by the way, this doesn’t matter, as you will see later. The truth that I will show you here works everywhere. First a general example then I’ll tell why there are only two kinds of writing (and by extension, two kinds of sales, products, speeches, politicians, preachers, closes, cars — you get what I mean).
In fiction and non-fiction writing we create characters. You can go on the web and find detailed discussions of how to create characters, many of them thousands of words long. They all contain good information about traits, looks, background, how many dogs they have, where they brush their teeth, and among others whether their gray hair is very gray or very white. All of this is good. However, it is superficial and creates only a visual statue that stands there and does nothing.
The crucial element of a good character is this: In any given situation, what will that character do?
Now that you know the question, you can go back and create the details that matter. Is it important that she have black or brown hair? Is it important he was teased as a child? Is it important that her big toe is crooked? Use only those details that matter. Everything else is useless fluff. Some people will say that genre matters. A science fiction character will be different from a romance genre character. Sorry, that’s not true at its base. To make either story work, you still need to know what the character will do in any given situation. The details may differ but you still need the same set of details.
Now to the big question: What are the two kinds of writing? If you listened to the video below, you already know. They have nothing to do with genre, with whether it is fiction or non-fiction, or whether it is business related or personal.
The only kind of writing you need to do is interesting writing. The other kind, which you better not be doing, it boring writing.
Writing is interesting if it attracts your readers, keeps them reading, gives them fascinating characters, gives them a lesson, gives them the next steps, and answers their questions.
Writing is boring if the reader reads the first paragraph, closes the book and never opens it again. If you don’t want that to happen to you, read on.
If you write an interesting mystery, people will read it. If you write a boring mystery, people won’t read it. The trick is that you may not know which you’ve written until you hand it to other people and ask them to read it.
I suspect that 90% of all books submitted for publication are boring. Agents reject over 99% of what they receive, mostly because it is unreadable. In the slush pile in the basement, a secretary reads first page after first page, searching for the one book that grabs his or her attention. Very few meet that criterion. It’s better that a friend tell you it’s bad than that an agent tell you.
The problems include poor sentence structure, poor spelling and grammar, lack of knowledge of fiction and non-fiction craft (until you know what this is, you won’t know you don’t have it), poor characters, rambling passages, flabby writing, and many more.
For now, forget about all the details and learn the big picture. Learn how to grab attention, how to make characters come alive, how to propel the reader through the book, how to create satisfying conflict, and how to keep the tension working to the end.
Did you notice that in the big picture there is one big concept, interesting or boring. In my character example, there is one big concept, what he or she will do in a given situation. Both these concepts apply in every possible business and personal situation. Try it. It will change the way you think.
The more interesting you make everything you do, the better chance you will have of getting the success you want.
Over the last 23 days I have written one story per day and published it on my 365 Stories in a Year blog. When I began this project, I knew it wouldn’t be easy to keep this commitment to write and create every day. When most people comment on this project it’s to say, “I wouldn’t have enough ideas to run for six days, much less 365.”
You’ll find plenty of sites that purport to give you story ideas. Many of these are long lists of phrases that may or may not work for any given individual writer. When I started this project, I decided to never use one of these artificial methods, particularly because I teach that writer’s block, the cause of this incessant search for ideas, does not exist.
Plenty of writers will argue with this, especially those who think they are experiencing it. Here are the facts: For 23 days, I have sat down at the computer, usually with no idea what I would write, and on each of those 23 days I have completed a story of between 300 and 1500 words.
So what’s the difference between blocked writers and unblocked writers?
It’s simple. The blocked writers are censoring themselves. When they sit down at the computer to write, they are thinking about what to write about. Thinking is not writing. In most cases an idea will surface, only to be rejected. After a while, the ideas will cease to come, the writer will say, “I’m blocked,” and quit for the day, hoping for better results tomorrow, when the block may be gone.
On the other hand, the unblocked writers sit down at the computer to write. They turn off the censor because they have only so long to create that story and because it must get written. Each day, when I first faced that blank screen on the computer, I have paid attention to what my mind is sending up. There are plenty of ideas, more than I could write in a week, arriving every second. The unblocked writer has either already chosen an idea or grabs one of the first that the mind sends up.
They key is to not censor yourself. Write the idea as a title. Then start writing the story, even if the idea is unformed, even if you have no real idea where it is going. The act of putting words on paper is the act of breaking writers block. If you spend three days looking at artificial ideas before you choose one, you will still have to type that idea on the screen and write the story.
This is not revolutionary. This is what professional writers do every day of their writing life. Writers write. They don’t spend days thinking, they spend days writing. They may toss parts of what they write but at least then they know that idea does not work.
It’s scary to put words on paper then start to write. We are trained to believe that writing must be controlled, that the idea must be good and well thought out. That is an intellectual pursuit, not a creative one. The creative process listens to the subconscious mind and accepts the output. The intellectual process hears the unconscious mind and rejects its output as worthless.
The best stories are the ones you record from your creative mind, not the ones you laboriously construct with your intellectual mind.
Break your blocks today. Allow the ideas to flow and grab one of them, any of them, write it down, then get on with writing your story, blog post, book chapter, novel chapter, whatever project you are working on. You will be amazed at how much writing you get done.
I wasn’t sure how it would go when I started the Story Writing Ideas and 365 Stories in a Year blogs. Everyone generally agrees that it is difficult to come up with good story ideas and even tougher to write the story. Now I’ve never had trouble coming up with ideas but one a day might be hard to do.
As it turns out, getting the ideas has been no problem. Mostly it’s been a matter of allowing them to come forth. As long as I don’t fight it to much, the right idea will emerge. So far I’m 14 days into my personal challenge to write and post one story a day for the next year. It’s actually getting easier as I go along.
Most people actively look for ideas. They try to force them out and they consciously search for good ideas that make sense. The problem is that they reject most of the ideas that appear and then complain that they are blocked. This is by far the most common reason people get stuck in their writing. It’s not that they don’t get ideas, it’s that they reject them all, many before they ever reach consciousness.
Here’s my process. I sit at the computer with a blank blog post screen in front of me. I empty my mind and listen for the first idea to emerge. It’s usually a few succinct words. I write those words in the title box. Next I go to the post box, the one I’m writing in right now, and go where those title words take me. I record the story or post. (Note I didn’t say write. The process is more like recording what comes from my subconscious mind.) After the story or post is written, I copy it into a Word document to edit and check for errors. I do the final SEO work and then post.
So far I’ve never gotten stuck and so far I’ve been surprised by the results. Some of the stories are better than others, many need some tune-up, which they will eventually get, all have a strong lesson and all have emotional impact, which a good story needs.
I suspect I’ll use many of these stories in my speeches and other writing as time goes on.
The point is that you can stop writer’s block in its tracks by changing your mindset around story creation. The creative mind is just that: creative. It throws forth ideas constantly. All we need to do is grab those ideas and run with them.
Throw out all the artificial story creation tools. Reach back into your mind, where the best stories reside, allow them to emerge, and record them. They will be more real, more powerful, and more resonant than anything your conscious, rational mind can produce.
Now I’m going over to the 365 Stories blog and write today’s story. As I write this, I have no idea what it will be about. Go on ever there about 4 p.m. today to see what emerged this time.